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Outdoor Navigation

Getting where you need to be, while staying on the right track, is a key part of backpacking. A hiker can quickly become lost in dense backcountry, making outdoor navigation skills an important part to any wilderness trip. Modern GPS navigation systems are a great tool for finding your way, but, as with any device, they can fail, leaving you stranded without any means to navigate. It’s best to keep a topographic map and compass as a backup in your pack, along with a map of the area. Study the terrain you’ll be snaking through before the trip to ensure you have a lay of the land, also. Read Backpacker’s articles on outdoor navigation to help guide you through this essential backpacking subject.

Google Map of the Columbia River Gorge

How to Read a Topo

By: Maren Horjus

Learn how to discern the markings on your two-dimensional map.

Navigation Skills

Master Class: Find Yourself on a Map

By: Molly Absolon

The best way to avoid getting lost? Always know your location. Study up on these key techniques for identifying terrain features,translating GPS data to a map, and triangulating your position.

Rock Cairn (by Kirkendall)
Navigation Skills Survival

Rip & Live: Lost

By: Kristy Holland

More than 1,000 hikers go missing every year in our national parks alone. Most are found within hours, but basic skills can help you get home without making a serious—or even fatal—mistake. Follow this advice for staying on course.

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